HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Hear their voices. Read their stories. Be guided by their passion and join the movement.”
Dubai, UAE, 5 February 2023: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was the setting for a book launch with a difference today, as it welcomed more than 20 young child authors who had won their place in the third Young Voices of Arabia anthology. In the presence of the Voices of Future Generations Goodwill Ambassador, HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 2022 winners of the competition saw for the first time their stories illustrated by local artists and celebrated at the largest celebration of literature in the Middle East.
HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Each year, the children who enter this competition inspire me and fill me with hope for the future. I ask you to hear their voices. Read their stories. These children are going to achieve great things, and it has already started. By connecting with Voices of Future Generations they have become a part of a movement, spreading their own message of sustainability. Let their passion, creativity and vision guide you, and join the movement.”
The event was hosted by previous competition winners, Ethan Dsouza and Hazza Ali Salem Mohamed Ali Yaleili. As part of the lively event, lyrical masters and keen supporters of the initiative, slam poets Dr Afra Atiq and Harry Baker, performed their compelling 17 Sustainable Development Goals poem with the help of the child authors and the audience. The two first place winners of the competition, Nourah Ahmed Yousif Almushtaghil Alnaqbi and Inayah Fathima Faeez, also treated the audience to a short reading from their stories in Arabic and English.
The anthology features the winning stories from the Voices of Future Generations for the Middle East competition in 2022, professionally edited and translated so all the stories can be read in Arabic and English. The stories were inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and share the author’s vision for a better future. Capturing the spirit of the nation, the collection is perfectly aligned with the UAE’s commitment to the environment, as 2023 is named the Year of Sustainability, culminating in Cop28 being held in Dubai in November.
Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, commented: “This is a very special collection, and I implore everyone to read it and be inspired. Here we have some of the most inventive and enjoyable adventure tales I have read in a long time. Each one makes a powerful case for one of the UN’s sustainable development goals, showing how passionate these young authors are about our planet and its preservation, as well as story-telling. There is nothing quite like a great story to win over hearts and minds, and that is exactly what this anthology does.”
Jennifer Malton, Director of VoFG and Sustainability, Emirates Literature Foundation, said: “It is heart-warming to see how the entire community come out to support these young authors and sustainability champions. It is clear that their passion for sustainability is contagious, and we love to see how their enthusiasm spreads to their schools, their social clubs, family gatherings and everywhere they go. This initiative is proof that we can all make a difference.”
Voices of Future Generations is a unique writing initiative launched under the patronage of UNESCO and supported by HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East. It was created to promote Sustainability and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child through a creative writing competition for young children. The competition was first launched in the Middle East in 2019, with support from Emirates Literature Foundation.
The 2023 competition is now open to all children aged between 8 and 12 residing in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. Entries can be in either Arabic or English. They should be between 600 and 1,500 words long, and feature the writer’s hopes, dreams and aspirations for a sustainable future, including at least one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. More information can be found on the Voices of Future Generations website, vofg.vofgarabia.org.
The anthology is available to download from the website, vofg.vofgarabia.org/books.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the biggest celebration of stories in the Arab region and one of the top literary festivals in the world, concludes 6 February 2023, after bringing together more than 250 of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers across its two venues at the Intercontinental Festival City, and across the Creek at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library.
The Festival is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.